No matter how old you are, it’s pretty likely that you’ve been told by an elderly family member, “Back in my day, we didn’t have (fill in the blank).” With the list of things that can fill in that blank including at-home entertainment like the iPod, iPad, Wii, Xbox, Nintendo DS, and the Internet, is it any wonder that kids don’t play outside as much as they used to?
Sedentary lifestyles can lead to conditions like obesity and diabetes, which are running rampant among our children. That’s why it’s more important than ever to motive our kids to get moving.
Here are some tips for getting your couch potatoes outdoors:
- Limit TV watching and the use of video game systems and the Internet to 1-2 hours a day. That way, they won’t feel deprived of their “technology fix,” and will pursue other, more beneficial forms of entertainment, like outdoor play and reading.
- Give them the choice: indoor chores, or outdoor play. They’ll most likely choose outdoor play, but even if they choose chores, they’ll be moving more than if they were staring at a computer screen while also learning to be responsible for their own space.
- Give them ideas for what to do outdoors: drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, rollerblading, bike riding, hoola-hooping, hopscotch, jumping rope, tree climbing, swimming, ball playing, backyard camping, wildlife watching, treasure hunting, gardening, fort building, playing tag, playing hide-and-seek, rock collecting – the list is endless!
If all else fails, you could take the drastic measure that my parents took: remove the TVs, video games, and computers from the house altogether! That certainly got the kids in my family out of the house, and more importantly, I clearly remember feeling calmer, more focused, and more interested in activities like reading and outdoor play.
To find a trusted pediatrician near you who can determine whether your child is getting enough exercise, use the Vitals Doctor Finder.